Born in 1956 in the city of Buffalo, New York, Jeff Thomas identifies himself as an urban-Iroquois. His parents and grandparents were born on the Six Nations reserve, near Brantford, Ontario, and eventually left the reserve to find work in the city. It is this experience of an urban-Iroquois that has come to define his work; Thomas seeks to re-contextualize commonly circulated historical images of First Nations people for a contemporary audience. In his words: "Ultimately, I want to dismantle long entrenched stereotypes and inappropriate caricatures of First Nations people."
Thomas was the subject of a solo exhibition, Jeff Thomas: A Study of Indian-ness, circulated by Gallery 44 Centre for Contemporary Photography (Toronto), which travelled to galleries across the country. In 2008, his work was also featured in a survey exhibition, Drive By: A Road Trip with Jeff Thomas, at the University of Toronto Art Centre, and his work can be found in the collections of the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the Indian Art Centre (Ottawa), Museum of the American Indian (Washington, D.C.), Musée de l'Elysée (Lausanne, Switzerland), Museum der Weltkulturen (Frankfurt, Germany), Princeton University (Princeton, New Jersey), The British Museum (London, U.K.) and The Ottawa Art Gallery. In 1998, he was awarded the Canada Council's prestigious Duke and Duchess of York Award in Photography and in 2008 he received the Karsh Award in photography.